Gender equality: A requirement of peace and prosperity

Flora Teckie
A Bahá’í Perspective
The empowerment of women — the achievement of equality between men and women — is essential to human progress and transformation of society.

It is a pre-requisite for achieving peace.

The Universal House of Justice, the governing council of the Bahá’í International Community states that, “The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality between the sexes, is one of the most important, though less acknowledged prerequisites of peace.

“The denial of such equality perpetrates an injustice against one half of the world’s population … There are no grounds, moral, practical, or biological, upon which such denial can be justified.

“Only as women are welcomed into full partnership in all fields of human endeavour will the moral and psychological climate be created in which international peace can emerge.”

Men and women are likened to the wings of a bird in the Bahá’í Writings. They complement each other in their roles.

The happiness and stability of humanity cannot be assured unless both women and men are perfected and treated as equals.

As the Bahá’í Writings state, “The world of humanity has two wings — one is women and the other men. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly.

“Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible” and “the happiness of mankind will be realised when women and men coordinate and advance equally, for each is the complement and help of the other”.

The empowerment of women requires profound changes in the minds and hearts of people and in the structures of society.

t begins with the understanding that the equality of women and men is not only a desired condition for the common good, but, it is a dimension of human reality.

As one of the Bahá’í International Community statements says, “The elimination of discrimination against women is a spiritual and moral imperative. Without fundamental changes in the attitudes and values of individuals and in the underlying ethos of social institutions, full equality between women and men cannot be achieved.

“A community based on partnership, a community in which aggression and the use of force are supplanted by cooperation and consultation, requires the transformation of the human heart”.

The non-aggressive tendencies in women, who by nature seek cooperative means in solving problems, are more and more appreciated by societies attempting to solve conflicts by peaceful means.

It is the Bahá’í view that woman’s full and equal participation in all spheres of life is essential to social and economic development, the abolition of war, and the ultimate establishment of a united world.

As the Bahá’í Writings state, “When women participate fully and equally in the affairs of the world . . . war will cease”, and “When all mankind shall receive the same opportunity of education and the equality of men and women be realised, the foundations of war will be utterly destroyed.

“Without equality, this will be impossible because all differences and distinction are conducive to discord and strife. Equality between men and women is conducive to the abolition of warfare for the reason that women will never be willing to sanction it”.

Responsibility for the change that will bring about gender equality rests both with men and women. Each must play a role in striving for the well-being of others and, ultimately, in creating together a social order that fosters the spiritual and material prosperity and peace for all.

 

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